“Winning is contagious,” as the old line goes.
So it is for the current edition of the Memphis Redbirds, winners of nine consecutive games. That matches the team-record winning streak established by the 2000 Pacific Coast League Champion Redbirds. It also ties the longest such stretch in the Triple-A circuit this season.
Compare that to the parent St. Louis Cardinals. “Never too low, but never too high” might be the most applicable catch phrase for manager Mike Matheny’s third club.
Forget about nine wins, or even six. The 2014 Cardinals have logged just one winning streak of five games, and it was over two months ago. For that matter, June 17 also marked the end of the team’s most recent four-game winning streak.
The latest attempt by St. Louis to take a fourth consecutive “W” fell by the wayside due to the Kevin Siegrist-Jedd Gyorko grand slam on Saturday. It was the team’s fifth failed attempt to string together four victories since June 17.
Just as nine is the longest streak in the PCL, so it is in the National League in 2014. Milwaukee did it as part of its fast start in April, followed by Atlanta at the end of June into the start of July.
On the “not too low” side of the coin, this year’s Cardinals have dropped as many as four consecutive games just once. It was in the third through sixth games after the All-Star break, with the first three at home. Number one was against the Dodgers, the next two versus Tampa and the last at Wrigley Field on July 25.
I am not sure what it is about post-break play, but at that same time last season, the Cardinals began their season-worst seven-game skid.
Yet, when it mattered, the 2013 Cards came through, with September winning streaks of five and six games on their way to a sizzling 19-8 final month, 97 wins and the Central Division title. That +11 win month is a bigger cushion than the 2014 Cardinals have accrued through their first 4 1/2 months combined.
All is far from lost this year. The team remains well-positioned in the Wild Card race, but the best way to catch the Brewers is to alter their season-long trajectory – by winning more just a few more than they lose.
The Cardinals’ record by month this season has remained on a very even keel. A summary is as follows:
April +1 games
August to date +3
10 games over .500 is an ok enough place to be, but is still tenuous. At the end of the schedule, an 86-76 record may or may not be enough to move into post-season play.
The best way to truly create some space is to find that Memphis Redbirds formula and crack off a long winning streak. We will see if the 2014 Cardinals have it in them.